Eric St. Cyr

Eric St. Cyr

Eric St. Cyr was born in June, 1933 on the island of Grenada. In 1969 he enrolled at the University of Manchester, where he earned his doctoral degree in economics.

At the academic level, he has published a score of academic articles on the Caribbean economy and co-authored a book with Lloyd Best: Economic Policy and Management Choices: A Contemporary Economic History of Trinidad and Tobago 1950-52. His thinking is aligned with the plantation economy theorists, a group that formed around the figure of the father of the theory, Lloyd Best. The plantation economy theorists, including Kari Polanyi Levitt and Norman Greivan, were interested in understanding the legacy of the plantation system in contemporary Caribbean economies. These structures and patterns of behavior, say Lloyd and his colleagues, keep the Caribbean economies trapped and act as obstacles to change. Therefore the figure of the escaped slave was reclaimed as the symbol of the culture of resistance and as a fundamental hope for change from within the system. The culture of resistance of the escaped slave was mainly reflected in what Lloyd called the “residentiary sector,” or in the residential production activity that emerged after the abolition of slavery.

At the same time, the plantation economy theorists also tried to show the continuity and reproduction of the traditional structures of the plantation economy in central economic sectors of contemporary Caribbean economies, such as petroleum, gas, bauxite, bananas, sugar and tourism. Factors such as the fact that natural resources continue to be controlled by foreign investors or that the earnings of these foreign investors are repatriated to their home countries, among others, demonstrate the structural similarities between multinational corporations and the sugar plantations and slaves.

In addition to his academic career and his contributions in the field of Caribbean economics, St. Cyr was also active in public life. He was the dean of the Social Sciences faculty at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine and was director of the Department of Economics at the same institution. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. In 1991, he served as an advisor on public finance issues to the recently created government of Grenada.

Author: Luis Galanes
Published: June 06, 2012.

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